SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The proposed changes to the South Dakota K-12 social studies standards are not appropriate for elementary students or special needs students, said organizations that represent administrators at each educational level.
The South Dakota Association of Elementary School Principals (SDAESP) and the South Dakota Council of Administrators of Special Education (SD-CASE) submitted letters to the South Dakota Board of Education Standards urging the BOE to reconsider adopting the proposed changes.
The standards board will have its final hearing on the proposed at 9 a.m. CT Monday, April 17, in the Pierre Ramkota Convention Centre.
The SDAESP urged the standards board to request the submission of standards that were revised in 2021.
SD-CASE said the new proposed standards have little allowance for problem-based learning, service learning or experiential learning. There is a federal requirement to close the achievement gap between students who have special needs and those of their peers.
“We believe that a curriculum written in this manner will only widen that gap and make the content inaccessible to the students we serve in special education,” the SD-CASE letter said.
The elementary principals used the existing standards as compared to the proposed standards to make point.
“In 1st Grade, students currently learn 13 Social Studies Standards,” the SDAESP letter said. “The proposed standards have 63 subpoints with topics such as the founding of Rome and of the Roman Republic, the Roman Triumvirate, and the story of the Peloponnesian and Punic Wars.”
Requirements or first-graders to learn about the founding of Rome and related history are in contrast to ideals taught in the first grade, the letter said.
“The content of this era of history to this detail is not appropriate while we are teaching students to play nicely on the playground, respect community helpers, and make friends. For example, the foundation of Rome includes a story of two jealous brothers with Romulus killing Remus and founding Rome where we know it to be today. Rome’s eventual demise began with the public, violent stabbing murder of Caesar in a meeting by his friends,” the SDAESP letter said.
The South Dakota School Superintendents Association sent a letter earlier this week urging the rejection of the proposed standards.
The South Dakota Education Association, which represents teachers and other school employees, and the Associated School Boards of South Dakota have publicly criticized the social studies proposal.